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NC school board: Budget would cause 'irreparable harm'

Posted June 2, 2011

— The State Board of Education voted unanimously Thursday on a resolution declaring that the current $19.7 billion state budget proposal would do "irreparable harm" to schools and students.

"I read our leaders talking about us being a broken system and that they have a plan for our broken system," State School Board Chairman Bill Harrison said. "Well, I think their plan is a plan to break an improving system."

The revised spending proposal from the Senate would give $300 million more to public schools than the House budget plan approved last month, according to the budget document.

It also restores funding for 13,000 teaching assistant positions and includes $61 million to hire another 1,100 teachers in grades K-3, both of which had been part of the original Senate budget.

But the measure also increases general cuts to local school systems from $4 million to $128 million. That's on top of existing cuts from the last budget cycle, adding up to $429 million that local school officials will have to give back to lawmakers this year.

Harrison and state schools Superintendent Dr. June Atkinson said the budget would cut thousands more jobs than the governor's budget would have because the state is now pushing more "flexible cuts" to school districts.

"The only place they can go to get that flex cut is to people," Harrison said. "So, to say that we've reinstated the teacher assistants – well, we've reinstated that line item, but there still are going to be many teacher assistants losing their jobs. There's still going to be many teachers losing their jobs."

"The responsibility for making the cuts will be on the shoulders of the superintendents and local boards of education," Atkinson added. "Since most of our dollars are in people, they will have to cut teacher's assistants, they will have to cut teachers, they will have to cut school counselors."

Other concerns range from taking away classroom support to extra student security, currently provided by assistant principals who might lose their jobs, and the impact to early-education programs, such as More at 4.

Republican lawmakers have said that they protected all public school teachers and teaching assistants, but Gov. Bev Perdue this week said she still has "enormous concerns" about the proposed budget, which she says appears to be a "charade."

State School Board Chairman Bill Harrison Web-only: State school board chair on NC budget

On Wednesday, her office issued a series of news releases analyzing the impact on school districts across the state.

The Wake County Public School System, for example, would lose $42.3 million under the proposed spending plan, while Durham Public Schools would have to cut $9.3 million and Cumberland County Schools would lose $15.1 million, according to the analysis by Perdue's staff.

"Don't say, 'We are reforming a broken system,'" Harrison said. "Say, 'I don't care about public schools, I am going to break an improving system, and here is my budget by which I am going to do it.'"

"I think this budget is a disgrace," he added.

Senators passed the budget bill 31-19 on Thursday. Republican lawmakers said they hope the plan will make it through the House and reach Democratic Gov. Beverly Perdue's desk by the end of the week.

Republicans in the Senate have a veto-proof majority. Five House Democrats have said that they plan to vote for the budget bill, which would give the House a veto-proof majority also.

Perdue, who hasn't offered any indication about whether she will veto it, said Thursday that she still hopes those Democrats will be with her.

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  • ThinkChick Jun 3, 2011

    Irreparable harm to the NCAE and a BIG voting block for Perdue and the Dems.

  • freweeln Jun 3, 2011

    "Irreparable harm"?? c'mon! Times are tough. Really tough. We as a citizenry have been spending wrong. It's going to hurt, a lot, to get things on track. This is just "what is". Cut the fat out of the govt and regulatory agencies and you'll find more money! Every single person I know who works for the state of NC tells me stories about people in their offices doing NOTHING, or about co-workers getting mad at them for "doing too much" and "making them look bad". It's NUTS.

  • tarheelfan41 Jun 3, 2011

    The school systems need to go back to the basics. Teach. All the "excuse" programs are an abject failure. If the parents do not provide a proper setting for education it is on them, not me. All this free daycare provided for pre school kids is not a responsibility of the the school system. After school daycare is also not a core function. Teachers should teach, kids should learn. Kids that don't grow up to be our ditch diggers ect. You know, the jobs Americans refuse to do. If they get hungry enough, they'll do it. It doesn't take much education to pick cucumbers, tomatoes, potatoes, dig ditches, collect trash. They are all needed functions and the kids that do not work hard all through school are prime candidates for these tasks.

  • littleriver69 Jun 3, 2011

    Hey, if you can't fund the schools....shut them down! Then see what you get. Tired of listening to the bull.

  • chevybelair57sd Jun 3, 2011

    Sure the budget will harm our schools just like the economy has harmed our lives, these people cry and moan why us, we should be exempt from our mistakes just like DC. Sooner or later gross inefficiency trickles down to everybody. you can't spend more than you make and stupid waste will harm your finances, it's a fact of life. The absense of common sense here is very apparent. This includes Bev who still wastes money in all state functions, her trip to DC is the latest and what about those fleets of cars and planes, has she prayed about them yet??

  • Plenty Coups Jun 3, 2011

    "Obviously the money already thrown at education hasn't paid off."

    And yet national test scores have risen since 1971. (NAEP) Sorry, your talking point is a myth.

  • BubbaDukeforPresident Jun 3, 2011

    Obviously the money already thrown at education hasn't paid off. Why continue to pour hard-to-come-by tax dollars down a failed system? 60% of high school graduates are not prepared for college math. College graduates don't know the difference between 'you're' and 'your'. Most telling, the number of young people brainwashed into voting for Democratic candidates is ample evidence that our school systems are failing to educate our children. It's not about education - it's about indoctrination; and those who don't know the difference shouldn't be allowed to vote.

  • jimmycarter Jun 2, 2011

    Don'tLikeTheSocialistObama--And I used to think all IT people(like yourself) were "washed out teachers"--at least all the ones I knew were.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Jun 2, 2011

    shotgun - "I recognize the importance of educators, however, I'm tired of legislators recognizing them as what appears to be the only state employees."

    They do that for ONE PRIMARY REASON, to make it appear like someone is threatening the welfare of children.

    That hits a HUGE sour note for those who don't realize what they're doing and that they're doing it to cause that reaction to manipulate some voters into thinking their way.

    It's not like it's a real threat to begin with.

    You buy what you can afford to pay for.

    Our governments need to do the same thing.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman Jun 2, 2011

    chevybelair57sd - "The irrepairable harm was done by the past state governments and their agencies by living way beyond their budgets to get reelected and manage their Depts poorly. Yes it's painful but NC has itself to blame. Ir's just a shame the taxpayer will do the suffering."

    AMEN!!!

    The NC voter (and those who didn't show up to vote) have no one to blame for this but themselves.

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